Letter: Hong Kong press still awake

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The Independent Online
Letter: Hong Kong press still awake

Sir: Your leading article (29 March) about Hong Kong's "worrying week", faithfully reflecting the fashionable view, in London at least, concludes that it is "harder and harder to express any criticism of the new order". As it happens, last week provided a couple of pointers in exactly the opposite direction which may indicate that we haven't all sunk into the trance you ascribe to us.

There were two big political controversies here during the week - the appointment by the future Chief Executive, Tung Chee-hwa, of a high-profile politician and surveyor to head his housing task force, and a comment by one of Mr Tung's advisers saying that the courts here were not empowered to take up the question of the legality of the provisional legislature.

On the first issue, Mr Tung ran into a barrage of criticism. As well as comment from politicians, there were a dozen editorials and columns pointing to the potential conflict of interest in the appointment, plus a batch of investigative stories on the surveyor's business record.

On the second, a wave of protest, which was fully reported in the press, culminated in Mr Tung himself saying that the courts were free to question anything.

It may be that most newspapers here are generally supportive of Mr Tung, but that does not mean they have given up their liberty. After all, I guess it may be harder than it once was to find criticism of the coming new order in Britain in the biggest-selling daily in the land.

JONATHAN FENBY

South China Morning Post

Hong Kong

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